How can you tell if pizza is bad in the fridge?

Quick answer

There are a few key signs to look out for when determining if refrigerated pizza has gone bad:

– Mold growth – any fuzzy, colorful growths are a clear sign the pizza is spoiled.

– Off odors – pizza that smells unpleasant, sour, or rotten should be discarded.

– Changes in texture – pizza that is dried out, extra soggy, or has an unusual slimy texture is likely bad.

– Discoloration – significant color changes, especially gray, green, or black discolorations indicate the pizza is spoiled.

If your refrigerated pizza displays any of these signs, it is best to throw it out. When in doubt, remember the old adage: “When in doubt, throw it out.”

How can you tell if refrigerated pizza has gone bad?

Determining if pizza is still safe to eat after refrigeration requires using your senses and watching for signs of spoilage. Here are the main things to look for:

Check for mold

The most obvious indication that pizza has spoiled is mold growth. Mold can appear in a variety of colors, though you’ll most often see green, white, or black fuzzy spots. It usually starts growing first on areas with exposed toppings. Even a small spot of mold means the pizza is past its prime and should be discarded.

Give it a sniff test

A bad smell is a clear sign to throw refrigerated pizza out. Pizza that has truly gone bad will have an unpleasant, “off” odor that immediately makes it unappealing. It may smell sour, musty, rotten, or ammonia-like. If it smells funky, it’s better to be safe than sorry and throw it away.

Observe the texture

The texture of spoiled pizza may look or feel different. It may become dried out, soggy, slimy, or just “off.” Signs of spoilage include:

– Dried out crust and tough or hard toppings

– Watery, soggy crust with wilted toppings

– Soft, slimy spots or dripping liquids

– Unusual stickiness, slime, or fuzziness

Check for discoloration

As pizza starts to spoil, you may notice strange discolorations. It may develop grayish, greenish, brownish, or blackish hues. The colors may appear in small spots or cover large areas. Drastic changes in color anywhere on the pizza are a bad sign.

Note the expiration date

Check the expiration, use-by, or best-by date printed on the pizza packaging. These dates give you a general timeframe for how long it should last refrigerated. Pizza that is beyond its date may not be fully spoiled, but it is approaching the end of its shelf life. For highest quality and food safety, it’s generally best to throw out expired pizza.

How long is pizza good for in the fridge?

Properly stored, refrigerated pizza will typically last 3 to 4 days past its use-by date before going bad. However, other factors also impact fridge life.

Type of crust

Thick and doughy pizza crusts tend to grow mold and spoil faster than thin, crispy crusts. Stuffed crust or deep dish pizzas don’t keep as long as thin crust or flatbread pizzas.

Amount of toppings

Pizza with lots of juicy toppings like fresh veggies, sauces, and meats spoil more quickly than plain cheese pizza. The more moist toppings there are, the faster mold can grow.

Storage container

Tightly wrapping or sealing leftover pizza in an airtight container helps extend its fridge life. Storing it loosely covered on a plate allows it to dry out faster.

Fridge temperature

Colder fridge temperatures (around 34-40°F) keep pizza fresher longer than warmer fridges above 40°F. Check that your fridge is properly chilling food to recommended temperatures.

Frequency of opening fridge

The more often the fridge is opened, the faster pizza can spoil. Leaving the door open frequently causes temperature fluctuations that shorten its shelf life. Minimize openings to maintain colder temps.

How to store pizza in the fridge

Proper storage is key for getting the most fridge life out of your leftover pizza. Here are some storage tips:

Let pizza cool before refrigerating

Don’t put hot, fresh pizza straight into the fridge. Let it cool to room temperature first, about 30 minutes. Hot pizza can raise the temperature inside the fridge, shortening the life of other foods.

Use air-tight storage containers

The best way to store pizza is in food storage containers that seal tightly to lock in freshness. Glass and plastic containers with tight-fitting lids work great.

Wrap tightly in foil or plastic wrap

If you don’t have containers, wrap pizza well in plastic wrap or aluminum foil. Make sure the wrap clings tightly to the surface rather than draping loosely.

Avoid storing in paper boxes or bags

Porous paper allows moisture loss, grease seepage, and air exposure – shortening the life of refrigerated pizza. For longer shelf life, transfer pizza to non-porous wrappings.

Slice pizza before refrigerating

Cutting pizza into slices allows individual pieces to chill faster and more evenly in the fridge. Whole pizzas take longer to cool.

Use shallow containers

Storing pizza in wide, shallow containers instead of tall stacks allows for better airflow and prevents sogginess.

Keep fridge under 40°F

Check that your fridge is maintaining proper cold temperatures below 40°F. Use a thermometer to monitor it if unsure. The colder the better for pizza storage.

How to tell if frozen pizza is bad?

Unlike refrigerated pizza, frozen varieties can keep significantly longer – but they can still spoil eventually. Signs that frozen pizza has gone bad include:

Ice crystals or freezer burn

Pizza that has been poorly wrapped in the freezer may get covered in large ice crystals. It may also develop grayish-brown freezer burn patches if air has reached the surface.

Odd coloring or texture

Frozen pizza that looks darker, drier, or crumbly when thawed may have been frozen too long. Edges should not be blackened or dried out.

Off or stale aromas

Frozen pizza that smells musty, rotten, sour, or like chemicals after thawing should be discarded. A dull, stale aroma also indicates diminished quality.

Mold spots

Like refrigerated pizza, if you see any fuzzy mold growing on thawed frozen pizza, you should certainly throw it out. Mold renders food unsafe.

Past expiration date

Check the best by date or expiration date listed on frozen pizza packaging. Frozen pizza typically lasts 4-6 months past the printed date if properly frozen, but is best before this date.

How long does frozen pizza last?

Frozen pizzas that remain continuously frozen at 0°F can safely last for the following times:

Type of Pizza Freezer Life
Homemade pizza 2-3 months
Store-bought thin crust pizza 4-6 months
Store-bought thick crust or deep dish pizza 4-6 months
Vegetable topped pizza 4-6 months
Meat topped pizza 2-3 months

The freezer life countdown begins from the day the pizza was originally frozen. For best quality, freeze pizza no more than 1-2 days after purchasing or making.

Tips for freezing pizza

To help pizza last its full freezer life, keep these freezing tips in mind:

– Let pizza cool completely before freezing so no moisture condenses on the surface.

– Wrap pizza very tightly in plastic wrap or foil with no airflow space. This prevents freezer burn.

– Place wrapped pizza flat in a freezer bag to prevent damage.

– Label bags with the date frozen for easy reference.

– Avoid over-packing the freezer, as this slows down air circulation.

– Use pizza within 2-3 days after thawing in the fridge. Do not refreeze thawed pizza.

Can you eat pizza that smells a little off?

It’s generally risky to eat pizza that smells even a little off. Even a minor sour, bitter, or unpleasant odor likely means the pizza has begun to spoil and should be thrown out.

If you cook and eat pizza that has started to go bad, you put yourself at potential risk of food poisoning. Moldy pizza in particular can contain toxic compounds and bacteria that cause illness if ingested.

Your sense of smell is an important first line of defense against contaminated foods. Unpleasant aromas in foods signal your brain that something is wrong and the food should not be eaten. Do not ignore these warning signs.

Even if pizza only smells slightly “off” or seems to smell stronger than normal, that is your cue to err on the side of caution. The consequences of food poisoning simply aren’t worth the risk.

Can spoiled pizza make you sick?

Yes, eating spoiled pizza can make you sick and cause foodborne illness. Here are some of the more common risks:

Mold toxicity

Eating moldy pizza can cause mold poisoning, leading to symptoms like vomiting, diarrhea, coughing, wheezing, and eye/skin irritation. Mold produces mycotoxins that can make you ill.

Bacteria growth

Harmful bacteria like listeria, bacillus cereus, and salmonella can grow on pizza over time, producing toxins that lead to vomiting and diarrhea.

Staph food poisoning

Staph bacteria from people’s hands can contaminate pizza and release toxins that cause violent vomiting and nausea.

E. coli poisoning

Toppings like raw meat and veggies can harbor E. coli, which causes severe stomach cramps, bloody diarrhea, vomiting, and fever.

Clostridium perfringens

This bacteria grows in warm environments like sitting out pizza and causes abdominal cramps and diarrhea.

The effects of foodborne illness may be mild or severe depending on the amount eaten, toxin levels, and your overall health status. When in doubt, just remember: “When in doubt, throw it out!”


Checking refrigerated or frozen pizza for signs of spoilage like mold, off-odors, odd textures, and expiration dates can help you determine if it is still safe to eat. Remember these key points:

– Discard moldy pizza, as mold toxins can make you sick.

– Throw out pizza with an unpleasant or very strong smell.

– Changes in color, sogginess, and slime may signal spoilage.

– Follow all storage guidelines to maximize fridge and freezer life.

– Frozen pizza can keep longer than refrigerated, for generally 4-6 months.

– If you have any doubts about the freshness, it is best not to risk eating it.

Trust your senses – if pizza seems at all iffy, be food-safe rather than sorry and just throw it out. It’s better to waste some pizza than to get food poisoning or other illness! When handling all leftovers including pizza, follow the old saying: “When in doubt, throw it out.”

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